Voice in Qualitative Research

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DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF VOICE:

Voice is a key issue in both the studying of and carrying out of qualitative research, as are the issues of power, reflexivity, silence, objectivity and so on. In qualitative research, voice can be interpreted in different lights. It can mean the voice of the subject being studied- whether individual or collective, or even situational. It can also mean the voice of the researcher who in turn is voicing the data, the case, and the respondents. A third voice is the tacit voice of culture, which directs the flow of the research, both from the stand point of the researcher as well as the respondent. A fourth voice is the voice of self when it is the subject of enquiry. Another voice is the voice of silence, which talks through the unsaid, representing withdrawal, acceptance, confusion, or myriad other things. Again, another voice is the voice of power which controls the level and extent of other voices. Another voice is the voice of science and learning which directs the data gathering and data analysis in a particular way, influencing which voices are included and which are not. Having said this, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Voice is a vast expanse in qualitative research and is an issue of utmost concern. Voice is not a stand-alone issue, independent of all other concerns. It is highly linked and influenced by other qualitative research issues. Not only this, it also influences other aspects of the research. Some other concerns that voice relates to, including silence, reflexivity, objectivity, power etc are mentioned as themes within the following interpretations of voice, in order to give a clearer understanding of the dynamics of interplay between them. The above mentioned interpretations of voice are discussed one by one as follows. The most natural assumption of ‘voice’ in qualitative research is the voice of the respondent. An individual would narrate his/her life story, in his/her own manner, voicing out...
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